Those who are considering becoming teachers may be curious about various entry routes into the school system. While all teachers in the United Kingdom will require qualified teacher status, holding a non-teaching job could be an interesting way of gaining valuable insight into how the school system works and what teachers are faced with on a day-to-day basis before committing to a PGCE or other means of getting involved in teaching. We will take a look at some non-teaching jobs that will give candidates this essential exposure to the student body and how schools operate.
Teaching and classroom assistants (primary and secondary) work directly alongside teachers in usually overpopulated classrooms or within more troubled situations in order to help students get the most out of what they are learning. Often, they will support individual students or groups while working alongside the teacher who serves in a leading role. Teaching assistants often bring specialist knowledge with them in order to work more effectively in a particular department such as advanced-level qualifications in English, maths, and/or science, or they may come equipped with special education qualifications, ESOL qualifications, or various technical or trades knowledge.
It is rare for teaching assistants to actually lead classrooms, but they may serve in a supervisory role when the teacher is required to step out. For the most part, teaching assistants will be most active immediately before and after lessons through setting up equipment and distributing materials as well as providing both pastoral and academic care for those who are in immediate need.
Teaching assistants gain valuable insight into the day-to-day running of a classroom because, simply put, they are always there. This direct level of observation would be an invaluable experience for those with genuine interests in becoming teachers. There are no formal qualifications required to become a teacher's assistant, but it tends to be a highly competitive role. Candidates should therefore be prepared to present in explicit detail why they believe they are the best for the job and provide documented experience and qualifications to support their claims.
Administrative staff who work for schools do not often take a direct classroom role, but will often interact with students on a day to day basis. They are often positioned towards main offices in the school where they perform typical administrative duties such as phone handling, data entry, and various reception tasks. This role will allow candidates to gain valuable insight into how a school is run, but not necessarily to how a classroom operates. Administrative staff may sometimes be required to deal with troublesome students, which could perhaps taint their views somewhat as to what actually happens in the classroom, but it will provide some valuable learning experiences in terms of how schools are actually run.
Like teaching assistants, there are no formal qualifications to enter school administration, but candidates often possess office qualifications like those provided by City and Guilds for office administration. Candidates will also need to show their IT skills, which is often supported by GCSE or equivalent level ICT qualifications. Candidates with documented experience in both administration and software use, particularly Microsoft Excel and Access, will usually be allowed to substitute this for paper-based qualifications.
Lunchtime supervisors are often hired on a more casual basis to serve for a few hours a day during term time. This role could be ideal for those with other obligations and commitments at their time of employment, but who still wish to gain insight into the day-to-day operations of schools. Throughout their role, they will supervise children in canteens and usually outdoors during normal weather conditions. They provide a vital link between students and administrative contacts within the school, and are often responsible for maintaining control in the school grounds amongst teaching staff.
There are no formal entry requirements for becoming a lunchtime supervisor, but candidates should be aware it is a part time position at the best of times. Candidates for lunchtime supervisor jobs will often work on a casual basis and often receive very few hours, which makes it unsuitable for those seeking full-time earnings. However, the insight that can be gained from a lunchtime supervisory position could be well-worth this exchange and it is best used as a means of supporting greater goals while having another form of income.